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Cycling Safety 101

We're counting on you!

Two riders practicing good safety

The Empire State Ride is counting on everyone, regardless of cycling experience, to ride safely. We ride in all types of traffic conditions – big city streets, mixed use recreational paths, rural roads, village streets and everything in between. Along the way, you’ll encounter pedestrians, other cyclists and all types of vehicles, including cars and horses and wagons. To avoid accidents and injuries, it’s vital to pay attention to your surroundings and follow safety procedures.

Here is a list of all required safety gear:

Bicycle - Free transport icons A properly fitted CPSC-certified bicycle helmet. Consider MIPS or WaveCel for added protection. If your helmet doesn’t fit, is older or has cracks in it, replace it.

Bicycle - Free transport icons Front and rear lights, specifically a front white headlight and rear red tailgate. Bring extra batteries!

Bicycle - Free transport icons Bike repair kit and extra tube. Though Empire State Ride provides professional bike safety checks and repairs at camp each day, it’s always important to have a bike repair kit with a pump or CO2 and extra tube, just in case.

Bicycle - Free transport icons A bike mirror to see behind you.

Bicycle - Free transport icons An ESR-issued safety triangle (right).

bike safety triangle

Here are safety highlights that we must follow.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Follow the rules of the road.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Learn and use hand signals.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Make your intentions known well in advance to avoid causing an accident from behind.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Call out your passes.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ensure cars are not coming up from behind before you make any passes.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Use your head and taillights each day (charge them overnight).

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Wear bright clothing and your ESR-issued safety triangle.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Obey all traffic signs and lights. There are no closed courses on ESR.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ride right – safely out of automobile traffic, on the shoulder, to the right on paths.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Take the lane with care to make turns against traffic.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Ride no more than two abreast, where safely possible, otherwise ride single file. NEVER ride 3-4-5 abreast. Do NOT hog the road to chit-chat.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Do NOT ride left of the center yellow line.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Do NOT impede traffic. Let cars safely pass.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic If you must stop, pull off to the right, out of traffic.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Pacelines are dangerous in mixed groups of cyclists and on mixed use paths.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic On trails, look both ways when crossing a road.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Beware of trail gates and/or bollards at intersections and trailheads.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Be courteous to other trail users and alert them to your approach.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Stay well hydrated.

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Use sunscreen and/or protective clothing

cone, pylons, safety, sign, traffic Earbuds and personal audio are dangerous if you can’t hear hazards. Use one bud only or use bone buds that do not go in the ears. Adjust your volume so you can hear vehicles and other people.

 

Check out this safety video, courtesy of the League of American Cyclists

Let’s Get Started: Finding the Right Bike

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ESR Logo

This is part one of a blog series for first-time riders written by first-time Empire State Ride road warrior, Jenna. Join Jenna in learning the ropes as you prepare to ride 500+ miles to end cancer. 

“In a lot of ways, the Empire State Ride is the exact opposite of the a race in that the people who are finishing at the end are getting some of the biggest cheers.”

I’m not a cyclist. But I have spoken with people who have done the Empire State Ride and heard many uplifting and inspiring stories. It has quickly become evident to me that the ESR journey is something special. So, I signed up as a first-time rider. Now, it’s time to get started.

As I prepare for my 500+ mile trek alongside new and returning riders, I know I have a long way to go. But I’ve started spinning regularly to build up to the beginner ESR training plan. I also swapped out my old Schwinn hybrid for a new-to-me road bike so that I can ride safely, efficiently and without injury.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned throughout my bike research:

There are many types of bikes out there: trail bikes, hybrids, road bikes, touring bikes; each one has a specific purpose. Road bikes are designed with speed and agility in mind, and their lightweight frame makes them ideal for tackling mileage when you don’t have to carry a ton of luggage (ESR takes care of that for you!). Touring bikes are built with a heavier frame and thicker tires to absorb the vibrations in the road. For long distances, a good endurance (not race) road bike is the best option.

Once you’ve figured out your bike type, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at bikes that are the right size for you. You can find sizing charts online to determine the right frame, but you should also think about your contact points (meaning your pedals, handlebars and saddle) and other factors like your top tube length.

If you’re new to the sport like me, you’re best to leave this part to the experts — which brings me to my next point.

Your local bike shops understand sizing better than anyone and can either a) get you set up with a new bike or b) make any necessary adjustments needed on your bike so that it fits you. on Content

Road bikes can be expensive. While it can be tempting to buy a cheaper bike from a department store, quality is important when riding 500+ miles. If you are looking to buy secondhand, make sure you’re doing your research and then take it in for a proper tune-up and fitting.

This one is especially important. Make sure that you have the right gear to go along with your new bike, specifically:

  • A CPSC-certified bicycle helmet. Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions and replacing your helmet every few years, because materials degrade over time. It’s also important to ensure your helmet fits correctly, meaning that it’s low on your forehead, the straps are evenly adjusted, and it does not swivel.

    If your helmet doesn’t fit, is older or has cracks in it, replace it.

    You should also consider investing in a helmet with a Multidirectional Impact Protection (MIPS) system. This technology is relatively new and was developed by specialists in Sweden to absorb shock and better protect your head. You can also consider WaveCel technology as another advanced option.

  • Front and rear lights. Empire State Ride takes place on open roads and trailways. Having a front (white headlight) and rear (red tailgate) ensures that cars passing by you will clearly see you as you ride along. Make sure you use rechargeable batteries or bring extras, as well!

Individual registration.

More safety tips

If you’re just getting started with training or considering joining as a new cyclist, let’s get started together. Share your experience with us by email at empirestateride@roswellpark.org or on our social media pages.

 

 

Rider Spotlight: Alan Kurtz

Meet ESR Road Warrior Alan Kurtz

Alan talks about the Hometown Challenge, overcoming obstacles and honoring 75+ loved ones

Alan Kurtz, 64, sits in front of a wall of race T-shirts, all cut down to squares and stitched together into a quilt that speaks to his lifelong passion. In front of them rests his road bike, a towel draped over the handlebars from his most recent ride. Running has always been at the center of Alan’s life. He’s completed seven marathons and qualified for the Boston Marathon — one of the world’s most prestigious and competitive running events. He ran the 26.2 miles with pride despite a sprained ankle. Later in life, he began competing in triathlons, which brought him into the world of cycling. Once he discovered Empire State Ride, the rest was history.

WHY EMPIRE STATE RIDE MATTERS

Image shows the back of Alan's custom jersey with the names of 75 people lost to cancer.

Like many, Alan has a personal connection to the cancer cause. He lost his father to cancer in 1984, and since then, he’s constantly sought out ways to honor his father’s memory. Walks and short races to raise money weren’t for Alan; he wanted something that would challenge him and combine his love of endurance sports. That’s when he saw a suggestion on Facebook for a 7-day bike tour. He clicked through, learned about the Empire State Ride and read that it supported clinical trials and cancer research at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He knew he had to become a road warrior.

In 2017, Alan embarked on a journey of a lifetime to end cancer, joining his fellow road warriors in tackling the 500+ miles from New York City to Niagara Falls. He’s been involved with the event ever since. Along the way, he has honored his father’s 56-year legacy, as well as a growing list of other loved ones affected by cancer: his mother who passed away in 2018, his mother-in-law who passed away in 2016, his father-in-law who passed away in 2020, his uncle who lost his battle in 2022 and 71 others affected by various forms of cancer.

Alan also honors his own battle with prostate cancer after receiving a diagnosis this past year.

With cancer affecting so many facets of Alan’s life, he knew he’d keep coming back to Empire State Ride year over year. Of course, life sometimes has other plans.

RIDING THROUGH IT ALL

A global pandemic, the loss of loved ones, hip surgery and other obstacles have kept Alan from joining his fellow road warriors on the road in recent years. But that hasn’t stop him from participating. He’s completed the Empire State Ride 500+ Mile Hometown Challenge multiple times, always finding new and innovative ways to cover the distance.

This past year, Alan rode up the eastern seaboard of his home state of Florida over the course of seven days. He charted out a course that traveled along the east coast from his home near West Palm Beach, finishing up just north of Jacksonville, booking hotel rooms each night along the way. His wife followed him on his journey, meeting him at preset rest stops (with nutrition and hydration) and the “finish line” in front of each hotel.

Along the way, Alan took in the sights, including a statue of a tin man, piglets, Daytona Speedway and a PGA tournament golf course.

“It was beautiful. I’ve seen many parts of Florida driving, but riding it just gives you a whole new perspective. You can take in so much of the scenery: the local developments and real estate, the river, along the Intercoastal Waterway and, of course, the beach. It was really just a great ride. I’m glad I did it.”

For the challenge, he had two jerseys designed. One jersey indicated that his “Sunshine State Ride” was in support of the Empire State Ride; the other included the names of 75 people who motivate and inspire him to ride, a list that is not comprehensive.

“They are not alone,” Alan says. “More than anything, they (and numerous others) are why I ride!”

ALAN'S ADVICE ON THE HOMETOWN CHALLENGE

The beauty of the 500+ Mile Hometown Challenge is that you can log the miles on your terms while still raising funds for the same impactful cause. You can ride anywhere in the world and break up the miles however you choose during the month of July (or beyond).

“If this is a cause that you really believe in and you want to do something about it but can’t afford to go on the road, the Hometown Challenge is your best opportunity to do it,” Alan says. “It’s not that hard if you put your mind to it.”

Here are some of the great benefits you’ll get when you sign up for the challenge:

  • A private Facebook group with fellow riders to connect, share advice and ask questions
  • The new ESR myHUB app
  • Access to experts, including a fundraising coordinator, cycling coach and more
  • Fundraising tools to help you meet and exceed your personal goal
  • Challenge to track your miles during the month of July
  • Rewards to celebrate your milestones
  • A team of other cyclists from around the world, ready to take on this adventure with you

“ESR, to me, is not only about the challenge; more importantly, it’s about the cause. Figure out what you’re comfortable with, get dedicated, get motivated and get out there and do it,” Alan says. “You will get better, you will get more comfortable, and you’ll be able to go farther. It’s not about speed, but you will find yourself going faster, and you’ll find yourself just loving it.”

JOIN ALAN AT THIS YEAR'S RIDE — IN PERSON OR VIRTUALLY

Coach Charlie Livermore: Pedaling Efficiently

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.  

Coach charlie LIvermore on Pedaling

This is a short version of a much longer talk on pedaling that Charlie will present at the ESR. The aim of this blog is to give you a simple technique you can practice to improve your pedaling efficiency.

Training for 2023 ESR requires lots of time at an easy, conversational pace (endurance intensity). Athletes often find this important piece of the training puzzle boring and repetitive. It’s too “easy” to keep your mind focused on the workout execution and counterintuitive to the old “no pain, no gain” cliche. But there’s no better time to practice your pedaling mechanics and improve your cycling efficiency than during those 60’ to 6-hour endurance rides. The smoother and more efficient you can train your pedaling stroke, the less energy you require to maintain your power or speed — and who wouldn’t benefit from that?

Think of a pedal stroke in the same way you might think of a golf swing, tennis swing or swim stroke. It’s a complex series of muscle activation of the hips, gluteus and leg muscles to act on moving the crank in a circle to create maximum torque. The longer you can create torque around the pedal stroke, the better. This is referred to as the duty cycle.

In the image below, you can see what the duty cycle of an efficient cyclist looks like compared to the duty cycle of most recreational cyclists.

On the left, the efficient cyclist starts applying tangential force when the crank is behind 12 o’clock (green) and ends at about 7 o’clock (pink). On the right, the duty cycle starts at 1 o’clock (pink) and ends before 6 o’clock (green).

A graph that shows the pedaling range of advanced and everyday riders.

It’s clear that there’s much more time in the duty cycle of an efficient cyclist. If you think about what’s happening on the other side of the crank of a short duty cycle, there’s a whole lot of time where there’s no force on the pedals at all. This results in the bike decelerating, forcing you to reaccelerate with every pedal stroke. If you have a hard time keeping your speed in a headwind or on a climb, you most likely have a short duty cycle.

So, how do we practice and change our pedaling efficiency? It’s really easy in theory, but it will take some time to adjust. Human are programmed to walk not pedal, and we are essentially applying walking biomechanics to pedaling, which looks like this: push down, wait for the feedback when our foot feels the floor, and then begin the process with the other leg.

To change that, we have to avoid reaching the floor and stop thinking about pushing down. Instead, think about pushing across the top and sweeping back before you feel the bottom. You don’t have to think about pushing down. That will happen naturally.

A graph that shows the pedaling range of advanced and everyday riders.

Quick tips

Things to think about and work on while practicing efficient pedaling technique:

  • Pedaling in the saddle is a two-joint action: hip joint and knee joint. No need to act on the ankle joint. No ankling.
  • Walking is a two-joint action: knee joint and ankle joint. We are not walking.
  • Think about pedaling from the hips, not the feet. Unless you’re sprinting, you should never feel much pressure on your foot against the pedals.
  • The push over the top starts by activating the muscles that extend the hip — the gluteus and rectus femoris.
  • The bottom sweep starts by activating the hamstring to close the knee joint. Try to feel your heel pulling back against your shoe.
  • To begin this technique, first focus on getting the sweep right. Try pedaling exclusively with the hamstrings (posterior chain) to activate and program this part of the stroke.
  • Imagine staying close to the top and the bottom of the circle. Do NOT overextend your leg on the downstroke or lift it too far over the top on the upstroke.
  • You are not pedaling in full circles! The pedal stroke is from 11 to 7 on a clock. Don’t overuse your hip flexor to “lift the leg.”
  • The advanced version of this technique is to synchronize the push over the top with the sweep through the bottom.

Thanks for reading!

Coach Charlie

Charlie Livermore’s 2023 ESR training plan

Charlie Livermore talks during orientation for the 2022 Empire State Ride

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.

The Training Plans.

Hi, everyone. Coach Charlie here.

I’m happy to announce that the 2023 ESR Training Plans are now available.

As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for a wide a range of riders. The training load necessary for an advanced rider is too much for a beginner and the correct dose for a beginner will not help an advanced rider. To make it easy, I divided the ESR rider community into categories and created three versions of the training plan.

Advanced Training Plan

The advanced rider plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around, and cycling is their primary sport. These cyclists can easily tackle the distance of the ESR. Their goal might be to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every day or use the training stimulus of a big volume week to prepare for another event goal. The average speed of this group is generally 18-20 MPH.

Intermediate Training Plan

The intermediate rider plan is also designed for cyclists who ride all year around. These riders won’t have a problem tackling the distance, but it will be a significant challenge. The average speed of this group is generally 14-16 MPH.

Beginner Training Plan

This group consists of riders who are either brand new to cycling or start training in the spring and summer months just to prepare for the ESR. Average speed of this group is generally 10-12 MPH.

The biggest difference in these plans is the start date and the length. For beginners, I stayed with the original 22-week plan since most of those in this category don’t have an indoor training option and can’t ride outside until spring due to weather conditions. The intermediate and advanced plans assume you have an indoor training setup or can ride outdoors.

Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the terms below. Understanding your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and breathing rate are especially important to ensure you’re working at the correct intensity. Read more about how about how to follow the ESR training plan below.

Whether this will be your first ESR or you are an experienced multi-day event rider, you’ll benefit from following one of the structured training plans.

Preparing your body for the challenge of riding 500+ miles isn’t just about riding more. You’ll achieve a better level of preparedness with quality training over quantity. Anyone can do the Empire State Ride; even a time-crunched athlete can feel confident at the start line if they train right.

Start every workout with a warm-up.

Warm-ups can vary, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational pace riding before you start any high-intensity-interval workout. Focus on the execution of the intervals rather than time. After you warm up and complete the intervals, complete the remaining prescribed time of the at an easy endurance pace. Workouts will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals to account for this. 

I prescribed all workout intensities based on Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1-10 (1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort). Each workout in the training plan has an RPE associated with it to help guide you to the prescribed intensity. Below, Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE and Breathing Rate lays out what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout to understand the scale.

Chart of terms

Recovery Miles (RM)

Recovery miles need to be very easy to allow you to recover from previous workouts. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than endurance miles. It should be 2-3 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2-3 times per week.

Endurance Miles (EM)

Much of your riding time will consist of endurance miles. Many people refer to this as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. These rides should be a 4-5 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with hills but remember to keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your endurance miles into steady state quickly.

Tempo (T)

Tempo workouts are faster than endurance miles but not all out (at your “lactate threshold”). These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 6 on an RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation.

Steady State (SS)

Steady state workouts are probably the most well-known of these workouts. They’re an important part of training and very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 7-8. These intervals are shorter than tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 min with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.

Power Intervals (PI)

Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2max. They last 1 to 5 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important, so make sure to get in 15-30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1-minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.

Fast Pedaling (FP)

This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light, with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with around 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking.

Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of fast pedaling, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed for the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the fast pedaling workout with as few interruptions as possible.

 Rest Between Intervals (RBI)

This is the rest time between each interval. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBI period.

Rest Between Sets (RBS)

This is the rest time between sets of intervals. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBS period.

Here is a typical steady state (SS) interval workout:

 60min w/ 3x6min (SS), 3min RBI

 All workouts start with the total time. In this case, it’s 60 minutes. Within the overall time, there is a specific interval set of three intervals. Each interval is 6 minutes long at the Steady State (SS) intensity and the rest between each 6’ interval RBI is 3’. The total amount of time of the interval set is 24’. So, what to do with the remaining 36’? Use some of the time before the interval set to warm up and ride the remaining time, less 5’, for a cooldown, at endurance miles (EM) intensity.

Interested in a personalized plan?

For those of you who are looking for a plan customized to your specific schedule and goals, contact me for a free coaching consultation at clivermore@trainright.com.

Charlie Livermore: Coach, Cycling Enthusiast, Cancer Survivor

Charlie Livermore's ESR Journey

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.  

With more than 30 years of experience as a professional cycling coach, Charlie Livermore has logged thousands of miles and helped countless cyclists reach their goals. He works as a pro-level contract coach at Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) and has managed professional cycling teams in tours around the world. The BMC Racing Team, cofounded by Charlie, went on to win the Tour de France in 2011.

Charlie’s passion for cycling started decades ago when he bought a bike and subsequently met the president of the Florida Cycling Federation. The president invited Charlie to an upcoming race. Charlie accepted, conquered the race and never looked back.

“Cycling has been my life. I’m a prisoner of passion and discipline. It’s been a great life. I still coach, I’m still riding, and I’m still helping people. I love it. I’ll never stop doing it,” Charlie says.

Charlie rides at ESR.
Charlie and a fellow road warrior smile at Empire State Ride

On Empire State Ride.

Charlie’s involvement with Empire State Ride (ESR) can best be described as a perfect accident. A client needed to get in peak shape for a European cycling tour and pitched ESR as a training event to log his miles. Charlie agreed and joined him on the road in July 2015.

The duo planned to stay at hotels and eat at local restaurants to make it easier to adhere to their prescribed nutrition plan. Then they discovered the catering at camp and started to meet the ESR community. As Charlie got to know the other riders, he saw an opportunity to use his knowledge and become more involved.

He started giving fireside talks each night after dinner. During those chats, he shared tips and tricks for navigating the road and answered questions from new and experienced riders alike. His talks were so well-received that he was asked to come back the next year as a coach. He has returned every year since to set our road warriors up for success.   

“I’ve done all kinds of amazing one-week and two-week long vacations in my life and the one that I keep talking about the whole year is the Empire State Ride,” Charlie says. “It’s a lifetime of stories all packed up into one week.”

“It's a lifetime of stories all packed up into one week.”

Charlie’s reasons for coming back.

Charlie has joined Empire State Ride on the road for more than seven years now. For him, the event goes beyond his love for the sport of cycling. He connects to the ESR mission on a much deeper level.

“I never talk about it, but I’m also a cancer survivor. I resonate with what is going on, and I understand the studies and the clinical trials, because I went on a clinical trial that really made my outcome better. I’m still alive.”

Charlie was preparing for a cycling event in Europe when his cancer journey began. Between cycling regularly, running a cycling center and traveling to and from events, he maintained a healthy lifestyle and felt great. That’s what made what happened next even more surprising.

During a routine dental cleaning, Charlie’s dentist discovered a lump in his throat that wasn’t supposed to be there. He referred Charlie to a specialist to have it biopsied. When Charlie did, the results confirmed the worst-case scenario: throat cancer. He never smoked and realized quickly that a cancer diagnosis can happen to anyone.

Through a reference from a friend at Stanford University, Charlie got into a promising clinical trial for his specific type of cancer that involved less radiation. He signed up and began treatment, anxious for the upcoming cycling event in Europe. Luckily, Charlie took to treatment well and was able to get back to cycling sooner than later.

“I survived. But it would’ve been a completely different experience if I had gone through those three extra weeks of radiation that the normal protocol called for,” Charlie says. “When they talk about clinical trials at ESR, I understand the benefits and how much they can change the outcome. I have respect and passion for the research side of things, too.”

Charlie LIvermore paceline riding with other road warriors
Charlie Livermore holds sign with friends at halfway point.

A full-circle journey for Charlie, it’s no coincidence that he found ESR and the amazing community of road warriors he works with. He says his experience with cancer and love for cycling have made him even more grateful for the journey and connections he’s made with the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.

“Empire State Ride is unique. What this organization is doing, and the passion around it, has been one of my biggest fulfillments in cycling. I look forward to the event every year.”

Coach Charlie: How to train for your first century

Charlie Livermore on the 100-Miler

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.  

Your first 100-mile ride can seem like an intimidating task, but with the right preparation, anyone can develop the fitness, skills and confidence to ride your first century. This is a basic overview of important topics that will help you get to that first century finish line.

Training the body to meet the demands of a century is multidimensional; it’s not just about the bike workouts. Put it all together, and I’ll see you smiling at the end of your biggest day at Empire State Ride.

Pre-Training Preparation.

Bike Fit — You’ll be spending significant amount of time on your bike. Make sure you’re sitting correctly on it. Book an appointment with a professional bike fitter to ensure that your body is in the most optimal position on your bike.

Prepare Your Body — In a previous blog, I wrote about mobility. The time you spend preparing your body during the winter off-season will pay off when bike training starts in the spring.

Training.

There are training plans coming soon on the ESR website for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders. Choose the right one for you, and once you start, focus on consistency. Getting on your bike regularly is the key to success.

Recovery.

Adequate periods of rest are essential for adaptation to training stress. Rest days and weeks are built into the training plans. It’s important to adhere to them even if you don’t feel like you need a day off or an easy recovery week.

Nutrition.

You must consume enough energy (food) to support your activity level. Your focus should be on improving your fitness, not losing weight. A major component of recovery is replacing the energy used in a training session so you can repeat it. Visit the ESR website and read some of my past blogs on nutrition for a deeper dive into this important topic.

Skills.

From learning to ride in a group, eating and drinking while moving or pedaling and shifting your bike, skills are an important part of being a good and safe cyclist. The best way to learn skills is with a local cycling club that has good mentorship leaders. Go on group rides and ask lots of questions. I will be writing about shifting and pedaling in my next blog.

For a deeper dive into training and preparing for your first century ride, here’s an article I recommend you read from my friend, Chris Carmichael.

CHRIS CARMICHAEL

See you all in July!

Coach Charlie

Terry’s Legacy: The Start of Empire State Ride

Committing to the Cancer Cause.

For 12 years, Terry Bourgeois served in the military and devoted himself to his country. When his military career ended, he started a career in corporate America but he also found himself searching for an additional purpose and direction. That search and drive to make a difference led him to sign up for Ride for Roswell, where he quickly realized the realities of cancer. Cancer was, and continues to be, a leading cause of death worldwide.

“I had just spent 12 and a half years of my life sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I was willing to give up my life for that. But what are we doing about cancer? This enemy is huge. It has no rules and really doesn’t care. This voice in my mind was telling me I had to be part of this fight.”

So, Terry did research on Roswell Park to answer one question: Is Roswell Park really a place that’s doing something about cancer? He dove in and learned about genetic testing and clinical trials. He read patient stories and met researchers and discovered that Roswell was the first dedicated cancer center focused on cancer research. He also learned how every dollar raised gets amplified by $13 through federal, pharmaceutical and other outside support. And he was sold.

He raised his hand and committed to the fight. That was in 1999.

Today, Terry sits on the Roswell Park Alliance Community Board as chairman and the driving force behind Empire State Ride. He’s been a fierce supporter of the fight to end cancer and founded the 500+ mile adventure across New York State.

The Road to the First Empire State Ride.

The first Empire State Ride in 2014 looked a little different than it does today. An idea came to Terry during a brainstorming session about ways to bring in new revenue for cancer research. What if we created an event with two major destinations that would bring in people around the world? What if that event included the Statue of Liberty on one end and Niagara Falls on the other as entry points and sources of hope for participants traveling to the United States? What if the event covered every major city in New York State, through rural landscapes and bustling cities, and ended near the home of America’s first dedicated cancer center? 

That thought stayed with Terry. The more he tossed it over, the more he knew he had to see the idea through. So, he set out to travel across the state on a solo ride that would echo for years to come.

“It comes back to the commitment I made in 1999 that I was going to do whatever I could to help this cause,” Terry says.

He laid the groundwork for his trip by charting out the route and planning stays at local campgrounds. His mother and her friend would fly from North Dakota and meet him in New York City. They could enjoy New York during the day and meet Terry each night at camp. From there, he tuned up his bike, packed his bags and prepared to set off.

But the best laid plans rarely go off without a hitch, and Terry learned that firsthand.

Terry Bourgeois crosses arms in an ESR jersey. Filler content.
Terry Bourgeois smiles in ESR jersey. Filler content.

It started with a call the night before he was scheduled to leave. His mother’s friend just received the news that her father had a tumor on his spine. There was no way she could leave him for a week, nor would Terry want her to. Instead, the new development would fuel Terry’s desire to raise even more money for cancer research. But first, he needed to find someone to step in. He dialed his sister on a whim, knowing that he was asking for a lot. She needed time to think it through.

The next morning, Terry set off without much of a plan. “I think a reasonable person probably would’ve stopped, but I couldn’t,” he says.

As he was pulling out of his driveway, his sister called him. “Good news,” she told him. She would travel from North Dakota to New York City to join Terry on the journey.

On the road.

The first morning started with a broken toe. The pain radiated through his foot. He vowed to push through and embark on his journey regardless. Weeks later, he would learn that his big toe had broken into two. 

Early in the day, his ride went from bad to worse as his GPS, loaded with route, failed to work in New York City. The route he planned to the first campsite was not accessible. He left New York City four hours later than planned on an alternate route in the direction of the campsite.

That first night hit Terry hard. He set up at a campground about 50 miles outside New York City. His toe throbbed, his body ached, and he began to question his journey and his sanity.

Then something serendipitous happened.

He met a fellow camper and told her about his journey. She introduced him to her sister who had been diagnosed with throat cancer. Her sister’s husband had been diagnosed with prostate cancer four months before that. The more they talked and shared stories, the more Terry knew he had to keep going. The family donated to Terry’s ride to support Roswell Park and Terry vowed to do whatever it took to finish his journey.

“The next morning, I hung my jersey over [the sister’s] chair at the campfire, and I signed it ‘best of luck.’ That was a pivotal moment where the negative feelings I had about myself and the voices that told me to quit just went away. A new voice said, ‘Terry, suck it up. This has nothing to do with you, and it has everything to do with her.’”

Despite all the obstacles and odds, Terry made it to the finish line. Why? Because life doesn’t exist without risks, he says, and raising money for cancer research is well worth any trials that come with a 500+ mile journey. Today, Terry’s greatest joy comes from seeing the change Empire State Ride has made in people’s lives.

Terry and Maria, two road warriors, hold their bicycles proudly in the air in front of Niagara Falls. Filler image.
Terry stands with a group of ESR riders and volunteers. Filler content.

“To be part of writing the pages in what will be a history book about how cancer used to be is the most fulfilling thing that I can think of for a legacy. When I get to the end of my road and think about what we've been part of, I'm going to smile."

Join Terry at this year’s Empire State Ride. 

Coach Charlie: How to prepare your body for #ESR23 Training

Coach charlie LIvermore on Mobility

Charlie Livermore sits in a chair wearing an Empire State Ride jersey and smiles.

The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also serves as a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.  

The days are getting shorter and for many ESR riders, the outdoor riding season is coming to an end. Fall and winter are typically the best times to begin an off-the-bike program. This period of low to no riding is when you can switch your focus to preparing your body for 2023 ESR training.

The goals of an off-season preparation program are injury prevention, improved muscle recruitment patterns and improved efficiency on the bike. There are many approaches. For example:

  • Cross train with running
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hiking
  • Start a strength resistance/weight training program
  • Take yoga or pilates classes
  • Mobility training

I’m a firm believer that mobility is what we all need most for our long-term health and wellbeing. When you change the way you move and correct the imbalances caused by our modern habits, you will get better results for all other off-season options and the spring cycling season itself.

Mobility is defined as the active control of a joint. It is the combination of strength, flexibility and control. Mobility training involves conditioning or priming joints at their end range of motion which then expands the joint’s workspace and contributes to long-lasting changes.

Flexibility is defined as the passive control of a joint. Flexibility training or stretching creates temporary changes to the tissues. Flexibility is the muscle’s ability to passively lengthen. Flexibility, therefore, is a component of mobility, though mobility and flexibility are not interchangeable.

The great thing about mobility training is that you can do it at home with minimum to no equipment, and most sessions are in the 12 – 30 minute range.

Here are my two favorite programs that you can stream and follow at home.

FOUNDATION TRAINING (FT) :    https://ftstreaming.com/

TRS VIRTUAL MOBILITY COACH: https://thereadystate.com/trial/

Start moving right and have a great fall and winter season!

See you on the road,

Coach Charlie

Curious about where the funds go?

ESR road warrior Dr. Joyce Ohm weighs in.

Your fundraising for Empire State Ride has a significant impact on cancer care and treatment at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Few know that better than four-time ESR road warrior Joyce Ohm, PhD, Interim Chair of Cancer Genetics and Genomics. Not only is Dr. Ohm out on the road every July with Empire State Ride — fighting hills, weather and fatigue as she bikes from Staten Island to Niagara Falls—but she’s also in the lab at Roswell Park, fighting to find cures for all types of cancer. 

 

We sat down with Dr. Ohm to ask a few questions and learn more about the impact of the funds raised through Empire State Ride.

Joyce stands side by side with a fellow road warrior at Wagner College this past July.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Roswell Park.

A: I’m a scientist at Roswell Park, so I’m someone who does research for a living. This is what I do, and it’s what I believe in. It is amazing to see riders put a tremendous amount of trust in us — it really is a special, amazing thing to think about. I cannot imagine what it must be like as an oncologist to say to a patient, ‘I don’t have anything else for you.’ As researchers, that’s our job: We’re there to put new tools in the toolbox. The dollars that go to Roswell Park fund that, especially in three key areas.

Two ESR riders smiling

Q: How has cancer treatment changed over the years?

For 20 years, we had chemotherapy and surgery and radiation. For some patients, that’s all we have still today. But there are new therapies being developed. It’s amazing to watch, just in my short career, how much everything has changed. In fact, we’ve reached a point where we’re really treating individual patients, not cancer as a whole, and that has added years to many patients’ lives.

Q: What are those key areas where the funds go?

A: First, they fund genetic testing and the development of new genetic tests — to help us decide what therapies might work best for our patients and to cover the costs of those tests for people who cannot afford them. The research world is completely different now, and how we treat patients is completely different. Now, we often make decisions about treatment based on genetic markers.

The second place the money goes is to clinical trials. New drugs and new therapies go through a rigorous testing process that takes many years and millions of dollars to get to clinic. We have tons of tools in our toolbox, especially for the more common cancers like breast and lung and colon. But for those rare cancers, like osteosarcomas and pediatric tumors, we don’t have new drugs for patients yet, and we’re working really, really hard to get them. A good chunk of the money raised for ESR goes to fund clinical trials, specifically to help patients who run out of other options. It goes to research teams who are asking cutting-edge questions, who are developing new therapies, who are learning more and more about tumors every day and who are learning how to treat individual patients. All of those dollars really, really pay off.

Then, we bring in federal support, pharmaceutical support and support from outside to really help make those dollars grow. And so, the impact of the dollars raised at Empire State Ride makes a tremendous difference for our patients.

Q: So, what does the future of cancer treatment look like?

A: Immunotherapy, including a really huge area of research at Roswell Park called CAR T-cell therapy, is making tremendous strides for our patients in every disease site that we’ve tested it in. We expect to see impressive changes in the next five to 10 years. There are new targeted therapies every day. So, every time we learn something new about a tumor, we’re able to start to think about ways to treat that and target it. New drugs are in development to achieve that.

Q: How does that all tie back to Empire State Ride?

A: Cancer touches all of us in many, many ways. When you think about what someone with cancer is going through today, you realize that what we struggled with on the road for Empire State Ride is nothing. 

But the fundraising is everything, and it’s making a difference.

Q: What does outside support look like?

Statistically, for every dollar that we raise through events like the Empire State Ride, we’re able to match that by $13 from external funding, from federal sources and other places. If every dollar that comes in gets magnified by 13, you can start to imagine the tremendous impact that we can have.

I see riders every day and tell them, ‘Those dollars matter. Those $5, $10, $20 donations are going to turn into cures, and they’re going to save lives.’”

Thinking about joining Dr. Ohm on the road in 2023? Join our mailing list to learn more.

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